Winter on the Way

Well it had to happen sooner or later.

Following weeks of mild weather with well-above average temperatures winter is about to arrive in Western Montana.

The 40 degree days we’ve been enjoying are soon to be replaced with single digits so count yourself lucky if you were able to make it out fishing over these past several weeks and if you didn’t you’ve got a couple of days left before the arctic blast hits.

Today looks to be the last best day but temperatures will linger in the 30’s for the next couple of days before plummeting into the teens on Sunday and colder yet early next week. The coldest day looks to be Tuesday with a high of -8 and a low of -17. It starts to tick upward later in the week and looks to be back to around 20 by next Friday. We’ll see if that turns into a warming trend or not but I wouldn’t plan on doing any fishing next week.

We’ve been getting a lot of calls from folks wondering if there is any ice on Holter Lake (which there isn’t) but that’s likely to change next week. We’ll keep you posted.

For those looking to make it out before the cold hits you need to know that the past couple of days have been the best nymphing action we’ve had in weeks. We can’t promise you that this will continue to be the case over these next couple of days but I think there’s a good chance it could be.

Winter bugs, winter water….as easy as it gets.

We did our first guide trips of 2020 yesterday and the day did not disappoint. This same group fished with us on January 3rd of 2019 and had a similar day so they really know how to hit it right.

Wolf Creek to Craig, deep buckets, pink bugs, hungry trout, and rods bent. That is the report from yesterday and the previous several as well.
Days like these make winter nymphing the worst kept secret on the Missouri. The wind can be a nuisance but outside of that, when it’s on like this it doesn’t get much easier. The choice of bug is typically not critical. Pill Poppers, Pederson’s Sow, Amex, Bubble Yum, Cotton Candies, Tailwater sows, Caviar Scuds…all the same stuff we’ve been pushing for the past month or so. Again, when it’s ON the specific bugs don’t seem to matter all that much which makes it nice because you can roll with the same rig all day rather than feverishly swapping out bugs and racking your brain trying to figure out what they want.

Run deep in the buckets with a bb split or two and hot spot your way down.

We did see a few folks around yesterday but for all intents and purposes the river is VOID of traffic which is another reason winter fishing can be such a blast.

Again, we can’t promise you great fishing every day but at just $400 for a guide trip  you can’t beat the price and as is always the case with winter trips, if the weather turns or if you simply change your mind, no harm no foul…NO CANCELLATION FEE! You won’t find a better deal ANYWHERE so why not book a winter day on the MO with us now? You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.

If you prefer the wait and see approach that’s ok too. We can generally accommodate your request with as little as a day’s notice. Keep in mind we can also provide quality lodging at an affordable price so you can spend your time on the water, not on the road. $99 (plus tax) for a cozy bungalow with full kitchen and private bath. Bungalows sleep three very comfortably.

Hunker down for the coming arctic blast and then make a plan to get out and fish the Missouri this winter when things warm up.

We have shifted into our winter schedule at the shop. We’re open from 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM Wednesday – Saturday and 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Sundays BUT there’s a very high probability that we will be closed on days when the temperature is at or below 20 degrees so please call ahead on those really cold days if you’re planning on us being open.

Accordingly, we will likely be closed most of next week or will just be here for limited hours.

That being said, we are open for lodging and guide trips EVERY day and calls are forwarded when the shop is closed so don’t hesitate to give us a call any day to book.

2020

The Holiday Haze is lifting and we’re excited 2020 is finally here.

While there was a fair amount of couch time I spent much of yesterday taking down Christmas decorations at home and am doing more of the same here at the shop today. With the holidays falling mid-week this year it feels like two weeks of the world on hold and as enjoyable as I’m sure that is for those fortunate enough to have all this time off, I for one am ready for a return to the normal routine.

As much as I enjoy the glow of the Christmas tree, the day the tree comes down always feels like a psychological weight lifted as we move on from the holiday haze and start engaging in the everyday again. We’re not quite there yet as these next several days will round out the break but with the decorations put away we’re that much closer to normalcy.

Obviously, for me normalcy is restored when traffic returns to the river so by the calendar we’ve got a long winter ahead before the 2020 season gets underway but judging by the mild extended forecast I’m optimistic we may see that traffic begin to trickle in sooner rather than later.

Whether this happens or not, the days are getting longer and with the holidays in the rear view people are already shifting their focus springward judging by the number of calls we’ve received the last couple of days for spring and summer lodging and guide trips. Have you booked your dates yet? There’s no time like the present.

2020 is starting much like 2019 did weather wise with very mild temps in the immediate forecast. High 30’s and low 40’s this week but breezy as you would expect and much of the same for next week. River flow is currently 4460 cfs with a water temperature of 34.5 degrees. Winter water conditions to be sure.

If you’re looking to get out you’ll want to target the slow winter water. It’s officially the season of pink if you’re planning on nymphing so check your stock on Pill Poppers, Bubble Yums, Pink Rays, Pederson’s Sow, Rainbow Czechs, Pink Lightning Bugs, Caviar Scuds, Cotton Candy, Pink Amex, Rainbow Warriors, Firebead Sows and more. We’re fully stocked on all of these and many more of your winter water essentials so stop in and replenish your winter nymph boxes before hitting the water.

As we’ve been reporting these last couple of weeks traffic has been MINIMAL. Many of the anglers I have seen out there have been swinging reportedly with varying degrees of success. Polar leeches, Kreelex, MoJo Minnows, buggers and leeches are all viable options. Swing those troughs and tailouts. If you’re unsure of where you should be fishing a quick drive up and down the river corridor on a moderately busy day can be extremely helpful (or you could just stop by the shop and ask us where you should be fishing). Take note of where you see people fishing and return to those spots when you can. It’s not that those are the ONLY place you can catch fish but there’s definitely a reason you see people in those same runs, day after day, season after season.

And don’t feel like you HAVE to swing. There are always fish to be caught stripping as well. I can’t think of any conditions in which I wouldn’t strip, save perhaps the weediest of summer days but even then I’ll at least give it a try. I’ve caught plenty of fish on the strip every month of the year, regardless of water temp. Obviously conventional wisdom dictates the colder the water, the slower the strip and that’s something you need to be mindful of but that being said you just might be surprised what happens with a moderately fast retrieve (with plenty of pauses) in 34 – 35 degree water. I’ll generally do a strip/swing/pause mashup during the cold water months but I’ve had plenty of trout smash a streamer in cold water with a moderately fast retrieve so don’t rule it out. Switch up your retrieve and your bugs until you find what works and keep your expectations reasonable. You aren’t likely to have any off-the-charts action days during the winter months but you never know. To me, a chase or two and maybe a nice fish to hand beats a bobber any day but that’s just me.

Along those lines of low-percentage winter techniques I’ve seen enough midge activity every time I’ve been out lately that it might warrant having a dry fly rod rigged up. Most of what I’ve seen for rises have been sporadic but I think if you were to put a lot of effort into finding feeding fish you would likely be able to avail yourself to numerous opportunities and maybe even fool one or two into eating.

Remember we’ve got great winter lodging and guide trip rates and with the mild weather ahead I expect we’ll start to see some people around again and while the holidays are over the great deals in the shop are still going strong. Do us and yourself a favor and take advantage of some amazing deals on great gear while you help us clear the way for spring arrivals coming soon.

Our normal winter schedule goes into effect next week. Shop hours will be 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Wednesday – Saturday and 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Sundays. We will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for the time being but that could change based on the weather and the traffic. We’ll keep you posted.

Full Moon Fishing Report

Full Moon over Wolf Creek Bridge

All is quiet on the Missouri as December continues to disappear.

We’re in the last full moon phase of the decade with the Winter Solstice knocking at the door.

The days continue to get shorter but only through next weekend when we turn the corner, celebrating the first day of winter on Saturday the 21st and then reversing course. A lot of winter ahead for sure but it’ll be good to be back on the road to spring.

Duck hunters outnumber anglers most days but there are a few folks getting out and enjoying winter’s solitude.

Winter nymphing is on and Swing Season is here. And while Trout Spey continues to grow in popularity, we’re here to tell you that you can actually fish streamers on a single hand rod on the MO in the winter as well. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

Obviously the first hurdle is to get acclimated to cold weather fishing. Its not for everyone but once you talk yourself into it and actually get out there you just might fall in love with the consistent abundance of solitude and the occasional banner day of fishing.

Warmer temps this time of the year are generally accompanied by gusty winds so I’ll usually fish the colder days if I can avoid the hurricane winds. Case in point, today we’ll see highs in the mid 40’s but we’ll also see 20 mph winds gusting to 40 mph….no thanks!
Tomorrow looks like a slight improvement and Saturday looks to be near perfect (by December standards) with highs in the mid 30’s and light winds.

And speaking of the weekend, we do have lodging available should you decide to treat yourself to a winter weekend on the Missouri.
Water temps have dropped considerably (currently right around 36 degrees) so the conditions are definitely right for tried and true winter techniques.

If nymphing is your game you’ll want to be targeting the slow, deep winter waters. Pink is always the go-to during the winter months and firebeads should also be a staple in your arsenal. Best bets are Rainbow Czechs, Pill Poppers, Amex, Bubble Yums, Tailwater Sows, Soft hackle sows, Caviar Scuds, Firebead or Pink Lucent Bead Rays, Pink Lighting Bugs, Pink Radiation Baetis, Rainbow Warriors, Pederson’s Sow, Cotton Candy, Firebead Sows…..you get the picture. Fish deep (7’ – 9’ overall) and make sure you completely cover the run, starting close and working your way out.

Streamer fishing is a go and while it may not generate the numbers you’ll likely catch larger fish swinging or stripping but not always.
Swing the tailouts with something in the leech realm and don’t be afraid to ply the depths either swinging or stripping. If you’re going to strip keep it slow with the occasional swing for good measure. We like Polar Leeches, Hot Head Kreelex, Buggers, Pine Squirrel Leeches etc on the swing or the strip and there’s no time I won’t fish a Sparkle Minnow or Mojo Minnow. A slow strip dredging the depths of the soft, lakey water could surprise you!

The walk/wade option often makes more sense this time of year with the seriously abbreviated daylight but a short float (Dam to Wolf Creek, Wolf Creek to Craig, Craig to Stickney etc) is very do-able and affords you vastly increased opportunities.

We hope to see you in Wolf Creek this weekend. We’ve got everything you need for you day on the water and almost all of it is on sale!
20 percent off bugs, lines, leaders, tippet and great deals on waders, boots and outerwear as well as layering and sportswear. And don’t forget our Holiday rod and reel sale – 25 % off ALL rods and reels and a FREE ARC fly line and backing when you buy a rod and reel combo. The BEST deals of the year just in time for Christmas.

Shop Hours 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM Monday – Saturday and 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Sundays through Christmas. We will be closed on Christmas Day and will play it by ear the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  Beginning the week of January 5th we will be closed on Mondays for the winter months.

Pre-Thanksgiving Fishing this weekend on the MO

There are all sorts of reasons you ought to include fishing the Missouri in your weekend plans, not the least of which is the fact that these next few days of 50 ish degree weather could in fact be the last of the nice weather for a while.

Add to that the certainty that we’re all about to be swept up into a busy holiday season starting next week and I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t try to get out for one last Missouri River hurrah before the holidays (and winter) are upon us.

Oh, and it just so happens we do have limited availability for lodging this weekend as well as a number of guides still hanging around who’d like nothing better than to log another day or two before calling it a season.

And while the Mending Waters Montana boats for veterans are in dry dock for the winter we do still have Adipose Flow drift boats available for rent all winter long.

So if you’re not interested in watching Saturday’s Brawl of the Wild and you’re not going to take advantage of the nice days to put up those Christmas lights before the snow flies again then I’d expect you might want to be on the water this weekend.

Angler traffic has been sparse to say the least which means you can have it all to yourself. I expect we’ll see some folks around this weekend but it’s doubtful you’ll be waiting in line at the boat ramp and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a piece of water to call your own.

We’re still dedicating most of our time on the water to streamer fishing with mixed results but nymphing continues to be productive and you may still encounter some dry fly opportunities though that window is rapidly closing.

Water temps are continuing to drop (currently 40.5 degrees) which will get those fish moving into the slow winter water. I wouldn’t say they’re all there yet but they are likely moving in that direction so don’t overlook those spots.

What traffic there is seems to be favoring the Wolf Creek to Craig stretch but there’s no reason you shouldn’t fish the dam and we also really like the Craig to Mid (or even just to Stickney) float this time of year. Just keep in mind that our daylight is continuing to shrink so don’t over commit or you’ll be rowing out in the dark.

We’re here at 8 am daily, anxiously waiting to help you out with whatever you need. Whether that’s bugs, leaders, indicators, hand warmers, gloves, socks, hats, waders, boots, sunglasses, free coffee (the best in the canyon), advice, a room, a guide….whatever it is, we’re happy to help. And while our shuttle service can be hit or miss this time of year we’re always happy to help hook you up with a shuttle whether we’re the ones doing it or not.

How about Christmas shopping? We can help you out there as well.

Great deals on rods and reels and something for all of the fly anglers on your list including Wolf Creek Angler gift cards in any amount good for anything and everything we sell from merch to guide trips to lodging and so much more.

Fall Returns

November on the Missouri

November is upon us and it looks like we could be in for a great week of fall fishing ahead and if we’re lucky, maybe even a couple of more weeks of chasing trout before the holidays take over our collective schedules.

Expect good BWO action this afternoon and throughout the week and don’t miss out on what could be our last, best weekend of the season. We’ll see sunshine and highs near 60 on Friday and perfect BWO weather through Veteran’s Day on Monday with a chance or rain and snow each day and temperatures somewhere in the 40’s.

With a forecast like this we’ve decided to delay our closing of the cabins for at least another week so if a weekend retreat to the MO’ sounds appealing give us a call and book your room and while you’re at it why not grab a guide and leave the rowing to us?

Winter rates are now in effect which means you can get a cozy cabin or bungalow for just $99 plus tax. Rooms sleep 3 comfortably and include a full kitchen and private bath. Shotgun Annie’s is open for dinner and is a great dining option during your stay in Wolf Creek but it’s also nice to have kitchen facilities so you can do breakfast etc on your own.

We’ve got plenty of availability from here on out but I expect we’ll book up for the weekend.

Following another round of winter weather last week we’re thrilled with the fishing forecast and can’t wait to get on the water.
Potentially epic dry fly fishing, solid nymphing and good to great streamer fishing are all a possibility so there’s something for everyone right now.

I always have a nymph rig at the ready but this is the time of year I like to roll the streamer rig all day long, only taking breaks for major bugs and irresistible pods of feeding fish. Fall brown trout are among my favorite things in the world!

And speaking of all day long….Daylight Saving Time has ended and while we loved getting that hour of sleep back on Sunday morning the days are now short, and for the meantime, getting shorter. We’ve not been in any rush to get on the water early so with an 11 or 12 o clock start you don’t have a whole lot of time before darkness falls, currently around 5 pm. Keep this in mind when choosing where to float.

Wolf Creek Bridge to Craig (or something in the 5 mile range) is perfect for this time of year though I wouldn’t hesitate to do something a little longer, in the 7-9 mile range, if you want to dedicate your day to streamer fishing.

Best bets for bugs this week are as follows:

Dries – Brook’s Sprout Baetis, Olive Parachute Adams, Wilcox’s Micro May BWO, Para BWO, Drown Spinner BWO, Nyman’s DOA Cripple Baetis, Flash Cripple BWO, Quigley’s BWO Hackle Stacker, CDC Caddis Emerger, CDC Baetis Emerger, RS2, Bucky’s Midge Cluster, Buzzball.

Nymphs – Rainbow Czech, Bubble Yum Scud, Tungsten Tailwater Sow, Caviar Scud, Little Green Machine, Olive or Pearl Lightning Bug, Juju Baetis, Juan’s Hi-Def Baetis, Firebead Ray, Pill Popper, Black Zebra Midge, Redemption BWO, Split Case BWO, Olive S & M, BWO Magic Fly, Soft Hackle Sow

Streamers – Polar Leech, Hothead Kreelex, Lil’ Kim, MK Ultralite, Craven’s Dirty Hippy, Galloup’s Mini Dungeon, ZK’s Inflated Ego, Circus Peanut.

Best colors on streamers have been olive, tan, natural, brown and black but don’t limit yourself. Throw what you like and switch often until you find what’s working. I’m guilty of running the same bug until I find a fish that wants it rather than the other way around and would probably do well to heed my own advice.

We’re on late fall/early winter hours at the shop opening at 8 am daily and it’s starting to get a little lonely out here so we hope you make us your first stop on your next trip to the MO.

Sun Setting on Season Six

It’s been a weird fall here on the Missouri.

We were robbed of fall colors and the gradual transition from summer heat to autumn chill by snowstorms and arctic air in September and early October.

October is traditionally one of our busier months and this year is no different but that being said I do get the sense that things are coming to a close a little prematurely.

The river is quiet, the streets of Wolf Creek and Craig are quiet and while we’re still getting a fair amount of nice days one just gets the sense that winter is starting to take hold, at least in a psychological sense.

The fishing has been hit or miss these past weeks and while we have seen a couple of BWO events we’ve yet to experience an epic day of dry fly fishing. I think the best is yet to come which will work out well for those of you maintaining your Missouri River fall fishing schedules.

Nymphing and streamer fishing have been so so depending on the day but it seems like we’ve had more than our fair share of challenging days this fall. Maybe that all turns around this week. There’s only one way to find out for yourself.

Go-to water has been Wolf Creek down with better reports consistently coming from the canyon. We’re running medium depth rigs, occasionally shortening up for the shallow fast runs. Good point fly options have been Rainbow Czechs, Pill Poppers, Rainbow Weight Fly, Bubble Yum Scuds, Tungsten Tailwater Sows and Tungsten PT’s all in the #14-#16 range. We’re trailing soft hackle sowbugs, Tailwater Sows, Little Green Machines, Zebra Midges, BWO Magic Fly, Split Case BWO, Olive lightning bugs, rainbow warriors, olive S & M’s and other miscellaneous mayfly nymphs and generally running with a single split shot.

It varies by the day and by the section you are in but we’ve found the fish are predominantly in medium depth, faster water. Don’t rule out the slow stuff but it hasn’t been great. When you hook up take note of the water you’re fishing and target that type of water throughout your day. Chances are that’s where you’ll find them….or not.

Streamer fishing requires a lot of work and some commitment but has been worth the effort for the most part. Weeds are still an issue and will continue to be for some time but they are localized and you can find plenty of clean water in which to strip. Stick to your favorites and fish them like you mean it. Best colors for us have been olive, black, natural or gray.

Bombing the bank and stripping through the shallows has been effective for me but from what I hear they’re getting them on the swing as well.

Dry fly opportunities seem to present themselves daily but you need to be ready to go at any given moment. Rig up that dry fly rod and keep it within reach while you’re nymphing and/or streamer fishing. Pseudos, maybe some BWO’s and the occasional caddis are all a possibility. We’ve had luck fishing a caddis blind when fish are up and eating but that seems to be fading so my suggestion would be to rig with your favorite BWO set up and hope for bugs.

Solitude is in abundance right now and will be from here on out. You can expect to see some boat and wade angler traffic on the nicer days but even on the busier days you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a piece of water to have all to yourself.

The forecast is calling for snow tomorrow and again on Saturday. Could we be treated to an epic day of BWO dry fly fishing? I wouldn’t rule it out!

In between we’ll see another couple of days of Indian summer with highs approaching 65 on Friday but expect the mild temps to be accompanied by breezy conditions. And speaking of breezy conditions, a high wind warning is currently in effect through 7 pm tonight for west winds 30-40 mph, gusting as high as 60 mph. Batten down the hatches!

Next week looks chilly but definitely doable. Cold on Monday and Tuesday with highs in the high 20’s/low 30’s but warming into the 40’s by the middle of the week.

We’ve still got plenty of lodging options available though we are closing the motel for winter this week and will follow suit with the cabins when it makes sense to do so. As always, our bungalows will remain open all winter long for the die-hards out there.

Guide trips are winding down and guides are beginning to disappear but there are still enough of us around that we shouldn’t have any problem filling those last minute guide trips.

Great deals still to be had at the shop with our Second Annual Rod and Reel sale still going strong and we’ve got all the gear you need for Cold Weather fishing.

Shop hours are 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday – Saturday and 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM Sundays.

Great Expectations

The Crew from Schultz Outfitters

In between winter storms we hosted one of the bigger groups we’ve ever had last week and while the weather provided for some nice days on the water the fishing remained somewhat challenging.

With four days to fish we spread out far and wide from Land of the Giants to Cascade and while we did manage to find everyone a decent fish or two the fish gods were stingy, giving us just enough action to keep things interesting and to entice the majority of the group into making at least a soft commitment to return to the Missouri for another go around next year.

The group we were hosting was put together by Schultz Outfitters in Ypsilanti Michigan so it was a real treat for me to be around a group of Michiganders all week. I also had the pleasure of teaching some rowing basics to one member of the group who had driven out ahead of the rest in order to pick up his new boat which he had delivered to the shop. What a great group and what a fun experience. I can’t wait to have them back again.

So back to the fishing report, yes on the slow side but hope springs eternal and we’ve got Great Expectations for the days and weeks ahead.

We’re enjoying the post-storm sunshine today and we’re glad to see the snow disappearing yet again, hopefully at least for a few weeks this time.

We’re back in the 40’s and 50’s starting tomorrow and maybe even up in the 60’s again by mid-week next week. Plenty of sunshine on tap over the 10 day and night time lows holding in the 20’s and 30’s, keeping water temps on the drop. Water temps are currently sitting at around 52 degrees.

Random BWO sightings being reported each day but I don’t believe we’re there yet. Keep those epic BWO days in your Great Expectations file and get out there on those cloudy days, preferably when it’s spitting rain and snow. It’ll happen sooner or later. In the meantime there are plenty of pseudos and caddis around to keep you busy if your idea of fall fishing on the MO involves dry flies only.

Nymphing has been moderately effective, depending on the day. There are fish congregating in the grass flats though they aren’t as grabby as we’d like them to be which has caused many to skip the dam and go in at Wolf Creek or lower.

The canyon has been fishing pretty good, relatively speaking and we’ve heard some decent reports from the lower as well. Don’t be afraid to spread out and try some different water. When things are on the slow side it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and explore parts of the river you aren’t as familiar with. You might be surprised what you find.

Best sellers from the nymph bins continue to be purple weight flies, Little Green Machines, Split Case BWO’s, Olive and pearl Lighting Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, Rainbow Czechs, Tung Darts, Tailwater Sows, Nitro Caddis Pupae, Black Zebra midges, Olive S & M’s, BWO Magic Fly, Dark Peep Show, Olive Psycho May and still moving a fair amount of Zirdles (tan or natural as of late). I’ve not had much luck with the zirdles lately but they’ve definitely had their moments based on what we’ve been hearing.

Streamer fishing should be heating up soon. I’ve heard a couple of solid reports but those have been few and far between. I ran an exclusive streamer trip on Friday and boated one really good fish, only moving a few others the entire day but take that for what it’s worth and get out there and strip.

Weeds are an ever-present hindrance though I’ve seen them MUCH worse. Prepare mentally ahead of time. Stay Calm and strip.

Best bets on the streamers have been Sparkle Minnows (shock), Mojo minnows, Black buggers, JJ Specials, Circus Peanuts, MK Ultralights, Dirty Hippy in brown or black and we’ve also had some action on Mini Dungeons, Baby Gongas, D & D’s and Inflated Egos.

As with the nymphing the fish have not been collectively grabby on the streamers but the ones we’ve picked up have been aggressive. If streamers are your thing put in your time and have great expectations. It’s the right time of the year for hunting unicorns and that next cast could be the one.

We’ve got a few more weeks of fall prime time ahead but the end of the season is in sight. We’ll likely start closing/winterizing some of our lodging soon and while there are folks around you can expect some relative solitude out there going forward.

The shop is still open from 7 AM – 5 PM daily for shuttles, bugs, cold-weather gear, Simms boots and waders and so much more.

After a busy week last week the guide calendar is thinning out so if you’re thinking of booking yourself a fall guide trip on the Missouri this wouldn’t be a bad time to do it.

Winter specials for lodging and guide trips coming soon and we’ll update you as soon as we know the winter schedule at Shotgun Annie’s. Expect fewer dining options in the area as the fall progresses but remember we offer lodging with kitchens so you can cook for yourself.

It’s been a weird one weather-wise and fishing wise but we’re still optimistic that there’s some great fall fishing ahead.

Welcome October

The return of autumn on the Missouri River

The winter storm that brought historic September snows and cold to Montana last weekend has come and gone and despite the lingering cold these last two days, it looks like we’re on our way to more seasonable fall weather as the week goes on.

We’ll see temps climb back into the 50’s starting today and it appears as though we may see a bit of Indian summer the first part of next weeks with temps near 70. Night time lows in the 30’s will keep things chilly for those early morning and late evening outings but a far cry from the low teens we saw Tuesday morning which took a toll on our psyches as well as on some of our exterior plumbing.

We did lose a few trips to cancellation over the weekend but those who kept their dates and fished through a couple of cold mornings were rewarded as the plummeting water temps and dramatic weather change seemed to have perhaps flipped the switch on fall fishing.

We had some good streamer and dry fly reports from yesterday, just in time for our big group trip from our friends at Schultz Outfitters in Southeastern Michigan happening all this week. Of course these Michigan folks are no strangers to cold weather fishing but we’re all stoked to see fall weather return and I’m sure they are as well.

Hopefully we’ll lose the rest of our snow here at the shop today and fingers are crossed that water will again be flowing through our aforementioned exterior plumbing in an orderly manner (not spraying out of cracked pipes) by this afternoon. Unfortunately we’ve embarked upon the season of long shadows here in the Wolf Creek canyon and while we do still have a parking lot full of sunshine we won’t see sun in the back yard until spring and it won’t be long before we lose our sunlight in the front so suffice it to say, we’re enjoying it while it lasts.

But enough about the coming winter woes…..right now the warm up is underway and we’re in the midst of our busiest three weeks of the fall season. The empty lot is empty no more and the quiet shop is now abuzz with activity, at least for the next few weeks. We do have a few vacancies here and there but for the most part rooms are going to be hard to come by until late October. If you’re planning on coming out over these next few weeks I’d recommend you call sooner rather than later as things are rapidly filling up.

Expect plenty of traffic out there (though nothing like during the summer season) if you’re headed this way and make sure to make us your first stop on your way to the river for shuttles, bugs, cold weather gear and so much more including the best streamer selection in the canyon.

Nymphing will continue to provide the numbers but there are plenty of other options if bobber fishing doesn’t excite you. Streamer fishing is heating up and is definitely worth your time though weeds will be an ever-present frustration. Keep calm and strip!

Pseudos and caddis have been providing plenty of top water action in a target-rich environment. The cool water temps should facilitate BWO action soon. In the meantime terrestrials will be back in play on the warm sunny days so make sure you’re stocked up on ants and beetles and the like.

Fall fishing is underway and it’s about to go off!

Winter on the Way?

Three days into fall and unfortunately the talk is having much more to do with the coming weather than about the fall fishing.

Today might be the nicest day we’re going to see for some time.

A high wind watch is in effect for tomorrow with west winds 30-40 mph with gusts of 60 – 65 mph possible in portions of central, north central, southwest and west central Montana. The local forecast is calling for cloudy skies with a 40 percent chance of rain and a high near 64 with west winds 13 – 22 mph gusting to 30. A far cry from what the high wind watch is calling for but just be mindful of the potential for high winds if you’re planning on fishing tomorrow.

Friday looks like a classic fall fishing day with rain likely and a high near 50 with calm winds. Did someone say streamer fishing?

Saturday things get interesting with rain and snow, becoming all snow after 3pm. High near 37. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible and it doesn’t stop there.

We’ll see snow all weekend with highs in the 30’s and lows in the 20’s right on into the early part of next week. The snow will taper off on Monday but it looks like we’re settling in to high temps in the mid 40’s through the end of next week. Will we see an Indian summer to follow? We hope so. Winter is fine but we’ve been really looking forward to fall and hope to see plenty of it before winter takes hold.

Again, most of the chatter this week has had to do with the weather but that’s not to say that folks aren’t fishing. It’s been a moderately busy week on the river with less-than stellar reports overall but fear not, better days are ahead. As sure as day follows night good fishing will return though sometimes I feel like simply adjusting one’s expectations can go a long way in turning things around.

You aren’t always going to have 30 fish days, and you probably wouldn’t enjoy them all that much if you did. Sure, everyone loves to have those days once in a while but it’s the work you put into it that brings the reward. Crack the code and its game on. Sometimes the code can’t be cracked. Sometimes the fish simply aren’t eating. It’s the challenge that keeps us coming back.

And it’s not as though the fishing sucks. It doesn’t. There are plenty of fish being caught and plenty of fish being hooked and lost. They’re hot right now and will give you a fight. You may lose more than you land and some of those lost are likely going to be the biggest trout you’ve ever hooked, that’s the beauty of losing them. No fish, no proof either way. They can be as big as you want them to be.

Nymphing as always is generating the numbers but we’re getting them on top as well and those willing to play the streamer game in the autumn weeds are occasionally getting rewarded with a Missouri River fall trophy.

Traffic has been concentrated from the dam to Craig though there’s no reason you shouldn’t be fishing the rest of the river…the fish are everywhere.

Best bets for nymphing have been status quo with Zebra Midges and Tailwater sows leading the charge. We’ve also continued to have good luck with weight flies and tung darts as well as Rainbow Czechs. Don’t hesitate to throw some small mayflies in the mix. #18 Green Machines, pearl lightning bugs, olive WD 40’s, Jujus and BWO Magic Flies are all good options.

We’re in-between on the dry fly scene as we await fall baetis but in the meantime try ants, beetles, caddis, October Caddis, pseudos and Callibaetis. You can’t go wrong with a Purple Haze or October Caddis trailed with an ant, a buzzball or a cdc caddis emerger. Get creative and show them something they haven’t seen.

Streamer guys have been getting them on small black buggers (are those even streamers?) but as always, fish the bugs you believe in. Confidence is the X Factor and it can make all the difference in the world.

If you’re coming out to fish the MO this weekend bundle up and if you happen to get caught unprepared for winter weather stop by WCA for layers upon layers of Simms cold weather gear. We’ve got you covered from base layer to outerwear, literally from head to toe. Gloves a plenty, socks, hats, Cold Weather shirts, guide flannels and of course a full lineup of G3 and Freestone waders and boots.

We’re not expecting much traffic this weekend but we’ll be here regardless, 7 AM daily. Rain, Snow, Sleet….whatever the case may be, we are your full service Missouri River fly shack.

Mid September on the Missouri

Autumn is starting to take hold

September is rapidly disappearing as the 2019 season continues to fly by. The lonely days of late August/early September are gone and the river is getting to be a very busy place again. The official start of autumn is just a few days away and if this week is any indication it’s going to be one busy fall on the MO’.

No more sitting around drinking coffee and staring at the computer screen all morning…its go time again.

Traffic has been heavy in the shop this week with a bunch of guide trips and drift boat rentals and more and more folks just stopping by for shuttles and bugs having heard about us and wanting to check out the shop. The word is out, especially for those coming in from Helena, Bozeman, Billings, and Missoula…really anywhere other than Great Falls. We are your first stop on the way to the Missouri and we are closer to Holter Dam and Wolf Creek Bridge than any other shop. And even if you’re coming from Great Falls, if you’re planning on fishing at the dam, WCA is the most logical place to stop for your shuttles and flies and anything else you need for your day on the water.

We are your outfitter owned and operated full service Missouri River fly shop. We’re your one stop shop for guides, affordable lodging, drift boat rentals, Shuttles, Simms waders and boots, Loop rods, Lamson reels and so much more including the largest selection of Missouri River bugs ever assembled under one roof in Wolf Creek Montana. Don’t miss our Annual Fall Rod and Reel sale going on now. 25% off all rods and reels and deeper discounts up to 40% off on clearance items from Ross, Redington and more.

Fishing has been good enough and it’s about to get much better.

Some slow days out there last week (and this week as well depending on who you ask) but things seem to be trending in the right direction as we await Autumn Splendor and Fall Fishing Nirvana on the Mighty Missouri.

Holter Dam has been crowded this week, both with anglers and with trout. It’s where most will be concentrating their efforts from here on out but just because most people are fishing at the dam that doesn’t mean you have to.

There are plenty of fish from Craig down as well so don’t limit yourself. If you’d prefer a more solitary experience then by all means spread out and try something new.

Nymphing has been and will continue to be your best bet for numbers. Purple weight flies, black Zebra Midges, LGM’s, Tailwater sows, Olive Redemptions, Peep Shows, 2 Bits, Tung Darts, Nitro Caddis, Radiation Baetis, Purple or Pearl Lightning Bugs, Rainbow Warriors, Juju’s….lots of bugs on the menu right now in the sub-surface game.

Hoppers have peaked and will continue to fade, ants are where it’s at. Caddis are getting eaten as well with the standard tan elk hair caddis and the larger October varieties all getting looks. Tricos on some days, with pseudos and callibaetis also in the mix. Fall BWO’s still a few weeks away. Dry Fly tip of the day – try trailing a CDC Caddis emerger when you’re targeting those sipping trout. They might not like your dry fly game but a CDC Caddis emerger fished in the film gets eaten way more often than you’d think even by the most discerning fish.

Streamer fishing has been heating up and will only get better as we move through the fall. If you’re a streamer junkie this is your time. A detailed report coming soon but suffice it to say that Wolf Creek Angler is your Missouri River Streamer headquarters. We’ve got the right streamer lines for any and all situations and while we don’t like to brag we have heard it said that we’ve got THE BEST STREAMER SELECTION on the MISSOURI. A word of caution for those just getting into the game….weeds, though not as bad as they could be, are an ever-present challenge when fishing the MO in the fall. Anticipate the challenge and STAY CALM. Streamer fishing is hard work. Weeds make it harder work and can drive even the most patient angler to the brink. Just try to stay focused on the hoped for results….the big payoff…the BEHEMOTH dwelling in the hidden depths of the MO.

Fall shop hours are 7 AM to 5 PM daily.

We hope to see you soon for the best of Montana fall fishing.